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Career specialist or counseling generalist: The effects of guidance department structure on career maturity of high school students

Paul Elliott Barnes, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to identify the relationship between student career maturity as measured by the Career Maturity Inventory (CMI) and the type of career education delivery structure present in school guidance programs. The development of student career maturity was examined to identify potential differences between students who attend schools using counselor specialists and those who attend schools that use counselor generalists to deliver career guidance. ^ The review of literature revealed that the school accountability movement has created a climate in which school counselors are examining the effectiveness of their programs. Traditional models of school counseling are giving way to programs based upon a comprehensive and competency-based guidance (CCBG) curriculum. Change that is often associated with the CCBG approach involves the assignment of counselor duties by specialization area rather than traditional methods whereby counselor generalists are assigned to work with students in alphabetical divisions or by a specified grade level. ^ The study population (N = 221) consisted of students in grades 9 and 12 in schools using either counselor specialists or counselor generalists. Participants completed the CMI and a separate questionnaire relating to frequency and type of counselor contact. ^ Analysis of the data showed that students in grade 12 scored significantly higher than students in grade 9 on the Total Score and Competence Test of the CMI. No significant difference between the grade levels was found for the Attitude Scale of the CMI. Students who received guidance from a counselor generalist and those who worked with a career-counseling specialist did not score significantly different on the CMI. Gender did not account for a significant amount of the variability in Total Score of the CMI Students working with a counseling generalist reported significantly more individual career-related visits with their counselor than the number reported by students working with a career-counseling specialist. Students who reported one or more individual contacts with their counselor regarding career-related matters had a significantly higher Total Score on the CMI than students who indicated no such contact. This finding can best be understood as a function of grade level differences rather than the result of counselor-student interaction. Recommendations for further research and suggestions for high school students, counselors and school districts are offered. ^

Subject Area

Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Barnes, Paul Elliott, "Career specialist or counseling generalist: The effects of guidance department structure on career maturity of high school students" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967357.